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Local History

Terracotta

Tamworth boasts two nationally renowned ceramics companies founded in the 19th century.

Gibbs and Canning of Glascote, Tamworth,  was founded in 1847 and are nationally and internationally renowned producers of highly decorative architectural terracotta, faiences and statues. Much of their work is visible today on buildings such as The Royal Albert Hall, the Natural History Museum and Birmingham Law Courts. By the 1950s, the company was best known for more practical items such as drainage pipes, sinks, vases and jars leaving a legacy living on in the decoration and plumbing of many buildings in Britain’s major towns and cities.

George Skey, Wilnecote Works, Tamworth was established in 1860 by George Skey, with two mines on either side of the Watling Street, in Two Gates, Wilnecote. Initially producing the more utilitarian drainage pipes, tiles, chimney pots and architectural terracotta wares, by 1870 the ornamental Rustic Ware production was well established. Some early items remained unmarked so may be unrecognised today. 

The company and sites were acquired by Doulton’s (a branch of Royal Doulton) in 1933 and returned to utilitarian and industrial productions. Multiples of Doulton’s brown ceramic insulators can still be seen in electric substations, on electricity pylons, and on railway lines across the country. The remaining buildings of Skey’s and Doulton’s can be seen on the left at the top of the A5, approaching the traffic island into Wilnecote village. The George Skey war memorial can be seen at the entrance to Morrison’s Supermarket car park, which was part of the original works site. (More information can be found here: https://historyofbelgrave.weebly.com/george-skey-co.html)

Local trades

Tamworth Co-operative Society was formed in 1886 by its founder William MacGregor, arising from a sense of fair play, the proposal to form a co-operative society was unanimously passed.

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